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Fourth Amendment Vagaries (Of Improbable Plain View, Notorious Privacy, and Balancing Askew)

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Volume: 74 Issue: 4 Dated: (Winter 1983) Pages: 1171-1224
W R LaFave
Date Published
54 pages
This article critically evaluates nine search-and-seizure cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during the October 1982 term.
The cases reviewed are Florida v. Royer, Texas v. Brown, United States v. Knotts, United States v. Place, Illinois v. Gates, Illinois v. Lafayette, Michigan v. Long, Unites States v. Vilamonte-Marquez, and Illinois v. Andreas. The evaluation of these decisions finds them to be troublesome in four areas: (1) what constitutes a justifiable expectation of privacy deserving of fourth amendment protection, (2) what quantum of evidence is required to establish probable cause for a search or seizure, (3) in what circumstances and manner should the balancing test (state versus privacy interests) be used to permit certain searches or seizures even without probable cause, and (4) when a container's contents are sufficiently apparent that a warrantless search would not jeopardize fourth amendment interests. The author believes that in all these areas the Court has been unduly generous in its definition of police power exercised in accord with fourth amendment protections. He also suggests that by the tenor and style of the decisions, a majority of the Court is seizing every available opportunity to expand the authority of law enforcement officials. A total of 284 footnotes are provided.


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